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2022-06-13

Big changes coming for Pick n Pay, Checkers, Woolworths and other stores in South Africa

Grocery stores and supermarkets in South Africa are likely to undergo significant changes in the coming years, says logistics firm Chep.


Staff Writer | Business Tech

While stores, rather than online shopping, are likely to remain the dominant format for the foreseeable future, the group said it expects to see several gradual innovations in line with societal shifts.

Some of the expected changes include:

  • Health concerns and legislation will likely shift the display of high-fat, -salt and -sugar (HFSS) products away from off-fixture areas and checkout lines back into the aisles, as we have seen at certain South African retailers.
  • There is also likely to be a greater concern for sustainability and environmental impact, with a focus on minimising packaging.
  • The health and hygiene awareness we learned during the pandemic will also mean an increased focus on minimising touchpoints along the supply chain.
  • Retail-ready packaging (RRP) is likely to grow in significance, as it meets all of these requirements. RRP is a supply-chain innovation that allows products to be moved from the factory floor on a single pallet either directly onto the shelf, into an aisle, or as a freestanding unit.

“RRP carries significant sustainability benefits. There is no need for repacking or transfer between pallets, which means fewer resources are used and fewer platforms are required. RRP also replaces the need for most secondary packaging, which in turn, avoids waste,” said Conor Powell, Chep sub-Saharan Africa’s in-store solutions lead.

“Manufacturers will become more involved in designing and commissioning their own retail displays – and these will be the same supply-chain platforms that bring their goods to market.”

Woolworths and digitalisation 

Retailer Woolworths expects shopping in South Africa to become increasingly digital in the coming years as more people use less traditional platforms such as Tiktok and Instagram to do their shopping.

The group said it is positioning its social media platforms as an ‘extension of its marketplace’ through new tools such as ‘virtual try-ons’, allowing customers to try on their make-up products virtually on Instagram, with the option to purchase straight from the platform – a first in South Africa.

The retailer is also trialling a ‘phygital’ solution, integrating its social platforms with its physical outlets through an in-store InstaShop, letting shoppers browse their digital friends’ favourites on Instagram, while physically browsing inside of a Woolworths store.

Pick n Pay and new markets 

In May, retailer Pick n Pay announced plans to take on Shoprite and Woolworths across three main market segments with the launch of ‘Project Red’ – a new store format aimed at taking on middle-market against stores like Checkers and Spar.

Pick n Pay said that its mainline store brand is currently competing in three distinct consumer markets – less affluent, middle market, and more affluent.

Feedback from customers has shown that this strategy has led to inconsistent product offerings, service levels, and store experiences – something which the retailer now wants to change.

In a repositioned market, Pick n Pay will leverage its discount brand, Boxer, to compete in the less affluent market – a segment where it traditionally competes with Shoprite – while the tried and trusted Pick n Pay stores will shift focus to the more affluent market, dominated by Woolworths and more recently, Checkers FreshX stores.

Checkers and tech 

Shoprite has an entire sub-division dedicated to new shopping technologies known as ‘ShopriteX’.

At the end of 2021, the group announced that it was trialling Checkers Rush – an automated, cashless “no queues, no checkout, no waiting” concept store.

Located at the ShopriteX offices in Brackenfell in the Western Cape, Checkers Rush allows employees to grab products and walk out without paying at a till.

The group said this is possible using advanced AI-camera technology to identify the products being taken off the shelves. Checkers Rush then bills the users’ bank cards upon exit.


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